Well, I’ve moved, unpacked, and most importantly, I have internet. And it looks like I’m already late for the new season. Here we go.
Higurashi might be well-received, but I don’t like horror, so I’m starting with Assault Lily Bouquet, probably a lesser show. We got ditzy Riri on her way to a school that teaches girls how to be Lilys, the last hope for mankind or maybe girlkind against monsters called “huge.” She meet various girls, the rich Kaede, the cute little Fumi, etc, while another tries to either pick a fight with or at least earn the notice of the laconic loner Yuyu, the school’s star student. Before anyone can finish their transformations they’re told a huge got loose and so everyone go and look for it. For reasons I can’t quite figure out, apart from the fact that Yuyu is impressed by Riri’s speed, the two of them plus Kaede go off huge-hunting. Naturally they find it. Yuyu helps Riri link with her weapon for the first time, and the three of them dispatch the monster and are school heroes, and it’s only Riri’s first day!
It isn’t great but it could be a lot worse. Apart from an infodump at the beginning we get everything we need to know during the action. Much of it is predictable–we have to wonder why Yuyu is so grumpy now when before she was pleasant. And we’ll have to watch as Riri grows as a fighter and a human. There’s also a yuri angle with the “Schutzengel pledge” the girls keep going on about–everyone wants to schutzengel with Yuyu, and the ED suggests Riri might be the one. I liked how the show teased the transformations but pulled back, not once but twice. Not that they were worth waiting for. It’s just a gun unfolding. There is a small army of girls involved in the story, but the episode’s unimportant ones are simply name-checked or briefly shown. The huge aren’t very exciting, just metallic things with blades, metal whips and the like, but the brief battle scenes worked well. The art is okay, the character designs feel a bit odd. Maybe too much CGI. We’ll see about this one.
Next it’s Majo no Tabitabi, where a gifted and hardworking witch-in-training, Elaina, passes her tests and sets out to find a witch to apprentice under. For unexplained reasons, none of the town’s witches will touch her, but she finally meets Fran, an eccentric who lives in the woods. She spends a month doing chores and not learning any magic at all, but endures it until she’s ready to snap. Sensing this, Fran challenges her to a duel and beats the crap out of her. This was to teach her a lesson, no, not that she must persevere to get her goal, but nearly the opposite, don’t endure things so much. I don’t get it either, but after that she starts really learning, until she hears the “I have nothing more to teach you” line, and she’s an official witch: Elaina the Ashen Witch, which to me sounds cool but she hates the name … but endures it? Anyway, off she goes for adventures.
It’s hard to judge this show by the first episode because it’s prelude. The story, which I hear is slice-of-life, starts next week, possibly a Kino’s Journey with magic. What we have is interesting enough, and the idea that she must not always persevere is an interesting point for a show to make, not to mention her promise to mom to run away when in danger. It makes me wonder if the show is going to get as violent as the Fran beatdown we saw this episode, or is it going to be more of a new-agey thing suggested by the comfortable, pastoral European backdrop? Either way it might be worth a look. The only real problem I have with it is that Elaina looks like Nyaruko and it’s a bit distracting.
Stop me if you’ve heard this: 100-man no Inochi no Ue ni Ore wa Tatte Iru is about a high school boy, Yuusuke, who gets sucked into a fantasy world– Okay, you certainly would have stopped me by then. So anyway, Yuusuke is sucked there by the lovely, athletic class idol, Shindou, who also sucked shy little Kusue into the game. They have to complete quests to get back to “reality,” whereupon they have to gather more victims, er, friends, into the fantasy world to take on even bigger quests. At the moment they’re so low-powered that a weak goblin can give them a hard time. Worse, although when they die they get regenerated after 30 seconds, if they all die, they are dead. Complicating this a little further is that Yuusuke hated his real life and would much prefer to live here, and he seems to have a disregard for the other two team members, at least for now.
An odd mix of styles. The show hints at darker material, but much of it, especially comedy involving the trio’s ineptitude, reminds me a little of Konosuba. In fact, I enjoyed the comic overtones the show brought. On the other side, the fear of death and the idea that Yuusuke can’t trust his own teammates does bring us to an interesting question by the episode’s end: Shindou is perhaps already dead (eaten by monster, and no one knows what the consequences of being eaten are, or if she’s even still alive). Should Yuusuke go off to level up on his own, or should he stick with hapless Kusue and level up together? The choice is obvious, but Yuusuke leaves Kusue behind anyway. What will the consequences be? The fact that I’m interested in finding out tells me I’ll probably watch episode 2.
Tonikaku Kawaii stars a boy named Nasa, named for guess what (He’s supposed to reach for the stars or something), who works diligently to become a top student so that they’ll stop laughing at his name. He’s well on his way when he sees a girl he can’t resist and gets clobbered by a truck as he races over to talk to her. Sheer force of will and adrenaline keep him conscious enough to declare love, and the girl says they have to get married. But he finally collapses and we jump three years to when he’s eighteen, and the mysterious girl shows up at the door and says they made a promise, right? Nasa is shocked but before you know it they’re signing papers at the ward office, and now Nasa, who’s never had a girlfriend or even held hands with a girl before, is married to one, and he doesn’t mind.
Well, I figured this would be a high school romcom, or a college one, but Nasa abandoned school long ago, so where are the side characters going to come from? Nasa is your average young man, except he seems to have no interest in women apart from this one girl whom he has met once. Meanwhile, the girl, Tsukasa (we finally learn) is a complete mystery. Apparently she took the brunt of the truck impact and wound up bleeding just a little while Nasa was hospitalized for months. Then she mysteriously shows up at his place years later and has absolutely no trouble with the idea of marrying this average boy right then and there. What’s up with her? If the series wasn’t so obviously sweet-natured I would think she was up to something nefarious. Since it’s all from Nasa’s POV we have no idea, and I suppose that’s part of the hook. We’re all asking “Why?” Just because he said “yes!” in an adolescent epiphany? Weird weird weird.
King’s Raid: Ishi wo Tsugumono-tachi is set in the fantasy world of Orvela, which found peace after defeating a demon army 100 years ago. Now, however, there are reports of demons in the nearby forest. A small detachment of guards go to check it out and are pretty much slaughtered, except for one guy who reports back. This dismays our hero Kasel, an apprentice knight, because his brother Clause is still out there. What exactly happened to Clause is a deliberate mystery. Though he’s not fully trained, he decides to go out and look for him, and the priestess Frey, sister or childhood friend, insists on going out with him. If this wasn’t dire enough for Orvela, there’s a bunch of dark elves, led by the grumpy Riheet, who are plotting to overthrow the country, and they’re starting by being nice and offering their help against the demons. I think the happy land of Orvela is in for some bad times …
This has got an epic feel to it with evil things and palace intrigue going on, but none of it actually grabbed me. Kasel is a one-dimensional “I want to protect everybody!” type of guy, probably due to tragic past events, but it makes him dull. Frey isn’t much better, but we don’t really get to know her. What the band of dark elves (called “Black Edge”) are planning isn’t interesting either, but at least they’re going about it in an interesting way, and their anger is possibly justified. Now, this is a first episode and I understand they’re just putting the pieces in place for a conflict, but I’m not sure I care about what happens next.
Finally, we have Senyoku no Sigrdrifa, where some evil things are setting up giant pillars all over the earth and are trying to take over. Conventional weapons can’t stop them, so Odin(?!) in the form of a young boy, appears before a dejected group of world leaders and offers to lend a hand. Five years later and we watch as one of Odin’s Valkyries, the “Named” Claudia, leads an attack–in a biplane? Everyone else has typical stealth bomber type aircraft, but her biplane and it’s machine guns, fly with them all and take down the pillar, at the cost of everyone in the attack except her. She gets transferred to the Japanese base and quickly meets her teammates, since her plane is attacked on the way there. The new girls, Sono, Azu, and Miyako are as ditzy as Claudia is serious, but they do plenty of bonding when another attack comes.
I don’t know why they start with a 47-minute opener, but it did the job of not making me bored. In fact, I enjoyed just about every aspect of this episode, possibly because it kept me off balance. At first it looked to be a dark series, what with “Grim Reaper” Claudia’s remorse over losing so many pilots, so I was not expecting three more typically “anime” girls to show up and bicker. I almost laughed at that. I didn’t expect Claudia’s plane to spout wings and for the pillar to turn into a floating tree. And I was not expecting Miyako to jump out of her plane and slash the pillar’s core with a katana … Once safe on land we meet the ground people, all of whom are either normal background people or cheerfully eccentric, like their laid-back base commander and the mechanics and other ground crew. Now the question is where do they go from here. They’ve already partly resolved the “Grim Reaper” angle by having everyone come back from the last mission safe and sound. I suppose we’ll have episodes exploring everyone’s past. But what about the enemy? They are faceless organic machines with no real motive that I can see. Is there going to be an end to this, a final battle? Will the girls go back to Vahalla? If so, do they want that? I don’t know where the show is going but I had a good time watching this episode, so I’ll certainly watch more.